Vote Next Week

One week from today are the mid-term elections and they’re important. If you don’t know anything about them, it’s not too late to read up on the issues and familiarize yourself with the candidates. If you live in California (which I do) and you’re a registered voter, you’ve undoubtedly received the nearly 100 page voter guide. I don’t have time to read it either, but I’m still going to vote on the big issues.

Exercising your right to vote is not something you should take lightly. In an age when our democracy is looking more and more undemocratic, it’s important to remember that your voice counts. If the last presidential election didn’t teach you that, then you might as well just go back to sleep. I don’t know who has better ideas about how to proceed in Iraq, but I know that if we don’t acknowledge global warming, if we don’t talk about the fact that our government’s system of checks and balances is failing miserably and if we don’t protect our civil liberties, everyone now and into the future will be paying dearly.

And one more thing…Write your elected officials about how our election process has become effectively privatized by a small number of companies, some of which are so blatant in their political associations, it’s disturbing that more people aren’t screaming about it. Ars Technica has a great article about this issue along with a publicly available PDF that spells out how to steal an election along with a form letter you can use to contact your elected officials. It took me all of 5 minutes.

No Containing The Thermals

The Thermals were setting up and soundchecking and lead singer Hutch Harris decided it was time. And from that moment on, they barely came up for air. The Portland quintet blasted through a set spanning all three albums, including their latest The Body, The Blood, The Machine (Sub Pop). With most songs clocking in around three minutes, they covered a lot of ground in a short set, opening for Cursive, for whom I didn’t stick around long. Favorite songs “Here’s Your Future,” “How We Know” and “A Pillar of Salt” sounded incredible, as did the rest of the set. When you experience the energy coming from Harris, his lankiness seems to make sense. The calories were running down his neck and soaking his shirt, and that was after the third song. There’s nothing complicated about The Thermals. They are straight ahead pop-punk and quite simply one of the best bands from the Northwest. Their album is sure to be one of my favorites for the year.

iStill Like Mog

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From the makers of comes iLike, a new music-centric social networking site. I haven’t spent a lot of time with the site, but from what I saw it was nice. Everything from the UI to the iTunes integration is pretty impressive. I have no doubt they’ll be a major player in this space. My heart belongs to Mog, but I will certainly be spending some time with iLike.

A Quick Bridge School Benefit Review

I just got in my car and drove. Saturday morning, I was up early. The first solo road trip since… well, that walkabout I took to Mojave a few weeks back. This was different though. Mojave was about the songs of nature and this was about the rock, acoustic style. I made great time to Sunnyvale, picked up a key at the desk that was waiting for me, dropped my stuff off and played some guitar until J and D arrived with food. It felt so good to be out. I’d been to Bridge a couple of other times, but if the beautiful drive up was any indication how the day was going to go, I was set.

Rolling with J [sic] is the best way to do Bridge. He works for Neil, so we enter through the artist area. Neil’s old black Cadillac is parked next to the gargantuan tour bus. There were many buses. J rushes to the stage to place Devendra’s pedal. He’d left it at the hotel and J grabbed it on the way out. Devendra’s a smelly hippy, but a very gracious one at that. We wandered around backstage before the show. Oh look, it’s Dave Grohl and there’s Elliot Roberts, Chris Shiflet – check, Jeff Ament – yeah, he’s here, hello Ben Gibbard, etc… I’m not boasting, just calling it like it was.

Devendra Banhart – I’ve never been much of a fan. It’s the warbley vocal thing he does. Reminds me too much of Tiny Tim. And fuck me, that group of guys needs a shower and some deodorant. I was impressed with the performance though.

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings – What I wanna know is why the hell doesn’t David get billing. He’s he’s one of the most incredible guitar players on Earth. Gillian is a country music goddess. Her songs are a throwback of country’s finest roots and is always impressive. When Neil came out to play with her – WOW !

Death Cab For Cutie – I watched them from the side of the stage for a few songs and was wondering around a lot of the set. They tend to bore me a little, but they were in top form and put on a great set. I think they even made some new fans (in their 50s) that had never heard of them.

Trent Reznor – I was probably most impressed with Trent’s performance. He told a great story about how when he was asked to play, he was honored and aceepted immediately. What he didn’t know was that it was an acoustic show. He got some musicians together and arranged an entire set with acoustic strings and him on piano. It was so beautiful. He’s such a talented guy.

The Foo Fighters – They know how to put together an awesome acoustic show. Petra Hayden and Pat Smear in the ha-ouse! Seeing Pat Smear on stage is a treat. He always looks like he’s the happiest person in the world when he’s up there. The highlight of their set was seeing Dave play “Marigold,” which was originally recorded when he was in Nirvana and only available as a b-side on the “Heart Shaped Box” single. Nice to see him breaking this one out.

Brian Wilson – Incredible. The crowd was more into him than anyone I had seen all day or night. His band is absolutely stunning and they never missed a beat. Like David, the one complaint I had was “Johnny B. Goode.” Oh, and the fact that they played too long, but wow were people happy when he was performing. I smiled a lot during the set.

Pearl Jam – Wow. Just wow. I haven’t seen them perform in years and it was awesome. Eddie was totally on it. I didn’t have a reference point, but “Crazy Mary” was really powerful. The sincerity emanating from the stage during their set was impressive. Seeing Neil come out for some “Mirrorball” material was a real treat.

Dave Matthews Band – Say what you will about DMB (which I’m sure won’t be good), but they always put on an impressive show. It was the third time I’d seen him play and while I don’t care much for the music I have a lot of respect for the guy. All his players are tops and he sounded great. Neil came out for an impressive performance as well.

Neil Young – I was so exhausted by the time Neil came out, I wasn’t really all that into his set, but when everyone came out for “Rockin’ In The Free World,” you couldn’t help but sing along. Two funny side notes – 1) Devendra didn’t know how to play it, so J taught him. He wrote the chords on his hand so he could play along. 2) Grohl felt weird about going out there and J caught him back stage. He grabbed him by the collar and literally pushed him out there.

It was great meeting Michael and hanging out with him and David for a bit. Moggers were definitely representing. Michael even had a Mog shirt on.

Going To The Bridge School Benefit This Weekend

I’ll be taking off for a quick jaunt up to Mountain View for the annual Bridge School Benefit. In addition to being a consistently great show, it’s a worthy cause. This year’s lineup includes Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Brian Wilson, Foo Fighters, Trent Reznor, Death Cab For Cutie, Gillian Welch and Devendra Banhart. I’ll be sure to snap some photos, so look for those at some point over the weekend. Talk to you all on Monday.

Tangerine is a Peach

Potion Factory released a beta of their Tangerine application yesterday. It analyzes the BPM and beat intensity of your iTunes library and gives you a gorgeous interface in which to create mixes based on the info. It’s another example of simple functionality executed in an interface my mom could understand without reading the manual. And the icon is just as beautiful as the application.

Angels From Austin


Last night’s Black Angels show was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. You’d be hard pressed to find a better psychedelic rock band today. And don’t be quick to dismiss them as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on a few more hits, because The Black Angels are in a class of their own, giving life to a genre that has been fairly underground for years. If you’re a fan of bands like Spacemen 3, Darkside, The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Secret Machines and The Black Keys you will enjoy The Black Angels.

The Troubadour was packed with music fans. The real music fans that came to dance, be sonically mesmerized and by all means blown away. It always helps to have a lively crowd. There were moments throughout the show that I just forgot where I was part of a crowd. I was so focused on what was happening on the stage and coming out of the PA that when I came to it looked like everyone else was on the same page. The guitars roared through your head, the drums shook your insides and sometimes you’d lose focus on the players for a moment to see the porn, cartoons and collage of images playing on the screen behind the band. The band were masters of complete visual and auditory warfare. They were determined to take you on their trip and who were you to say no?

The Quarter After opened the evening with an amazing set that made The Tyde look like a bunch of wanna-be posers, but both bands played great sets.

2 New Technologies for Music Fanatics

Being a music fanatic has some drawbacks. The main one is that there are a ton of bands that I love, but don’t have time to look and see where they are playing and what other people are saying about them. Two recent technologies have started to change my life.

OnTour is a new widget released by PassAlong Networks. It simply scans my iTunes library and shows me who is playing around town. I refer to this widget at least once a day. An example of a simple idea executed well. I highly recommend this for any Mac-using music fanatics.

earFeeder is a JavaScript application that scans your iTunes library and creates a customized RSS feed that contains music news, tour dates, ticket sales, etc.